Are Midwesterners Happier and Friendlier?

Of The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin asked the following question: Are Midwesterners different when it comes to happiness – or enthusiasm, or friendliness?  When she was traveling the states she noticed people in the Midwest seem less hurried, clerks in stores are more willing to strike a conversation, and drivers are even more courteous to pedestrians.  Larger metropolitan areas are busier and therefore people are more hurried so they don’t take the time to be courteous to other people as often as in smaller areas.  Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project asked the Following question:

When it comes to happiness – or enthusiasm, or friendliness – are Midwesterners different?

After traveling from New York City to Kansas City, Missouri, Gretchen made some observations, notably that:

“People do seem less hurried. Clerks in stores are more chatty and helpful. Drivers don’t even turn into an intersection if a pedestrian is crossing (in NYC, they practically edge you out of the way with their bumpers).”

I read her remarks with great interest, being a Midwesterner myself.

I’m not one for generalizations and stereotypes, but I can share some personal observations. I have lived in Chicago and New York City, I spent a good deal of time working in London, and I now live in southeastern Wisconsin.

I’ve read the studies that suggest that Midwesterners perceive Californians to be happier than them, and that Californians perceive themselves to be happier than Midwesterners, yet there is no actual difference in the levels of happiness between the two.

What I will say is that the larger metropolitan areas tend to be much busier. New York has a deserved reputation for being a “hurried” city, whereby cities in the Midwest tend not to be so.

What it comes down to is that I believe that Midwesterners choose to live in the Midwest (when they make the conscious choice) because they enjoy the pace of life here. That’s why I no longer live in Chicago, New York, and London. I perceive that it allows me to be happier, more enthusiastic, and friendlier. I believe that my chosen lifestyle here allows me to make the time for things that matter to me.

Thanks to Sheila at Family Travel for including this post in the Carnival of Cities: The “See You in September” Edition.

4 Replies to “Are Midwesterners Happier and Friendlier?

  1. David, this is interesting. I’m inclined to say that midwesterners really are happier and more relaxed. I’ve had more positive experiences with clients from the midwest than I have with New Yorkers. Interesting!

  2. Pingback: Carnival of Cities: The “See You in September” Edition » TravelBlog Archive » Family Travel
  3. It’s kind of a standing joke around here that you can tell where in the country people are by their tone of voice. If they’re curt and borderline rude on the phone, they must be on the East coast. Busy has a lot to do with it as you say, but, crowded seems to have a definite hand in it too! Too many people trying to be in the same space at the same time. People tend to get nasty when feeling overcrowded. Just a personal observation. The crowded and busy cities do tend to have a short fuse by nature. Maybe it’s cabin fever?

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